According to official estimates, the population of Ouagadougou will rise to 10 million people in 2050. If we think that today the city is home to about 2.5 million inhabitants, this means that in just 30 years the population will quadruple. 7.5 million more people who will need food, water, essential care, work. How can we respond to these challenges?
We at Mani Tese here in Burkina Faso have asked ourselves this and, together with the municipality of the city, we have tried to make our contribution. How? With a series of interventions carried out as part of the project “Innovative social enterprises and participation of migrants for social inclusion in Burkina Faso” co-financed by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the Maria Enrica Foundation.
First of all, we worked on the rehabilitation of a first parcel of the “Ouaga green belt”, a set of green areas promoted at the time of the presidency of Thomas Sankara and then abandoned to neglect. The project of the town hall, which Mani Tese has married, is to regenerate these areas, using them for their original purpose, namely horticulture combined with fruit arboriculture. For this reason, on a first exemplary parcel of 5 hectares, we have installed a solar irrigation system and planted a good number of species of trees (papayas, néré and shea), which as they grow will become a small forest that can provide food to the city. The women benefiting from this area already live on the vegetables they grow on the ground and guarantee the care and protection of the area.
The second action we took was to review all the horticulturists in the city and identify 201 vulnerable women among them to donate an agricultural kit or a motor pump to irrigate the fields. An important initiative to facilitate the work of these women who also produce for the sustenance of the city.
The last contribution we wanted to make is to promote the engagement of young people, who will be the leaders of tomorrow, those who actually find themselves having to face the challenges of the future. To do this, again in collaboration with the municipality of Ouagadougou but also with the ACRA Foundation, we launched a competition, entitled “Nourrir Ouaga”, open to young people in the city who had the opportunity to propose innovative and technological solutions to respond to problems of the agro-food system of Ouagadougou.
The competition awarded 5 children under the age of 18 and 5 young people between 18 and 35 years old. The first category collected interesting projects from the students of the high schools of the city, accompanied by the ACRA Foundation in a path of computer literacy, who won a laptop with which to experiment with what they learned in class. The second category, on the other hand, saw 5 young people who helped develop their project.
In particular, Nassirou Maiga, winner of the first prize, created the demo video of his “Smart Doctor” app created to help farmers recognize and treat plant diseases; Poupla Annick Somé received a high-performance computer to develop her app “Ouaga Sans Faim” which will connect producers, processors, transporters and customers of the city, as well as having tutorials on how to take care of plants. Arsène Gambo, third classified, was able to experiment his “Family Vegetables Grower” project in 8 families in the city, with which it is possible to produce one’s own vegetables using hydroponic techniques directly at home, with monitoring via mobile phone, a project that is having great success and for which there is already demand in other cities of Burkina Faso. Angeline Diarra, on the other hand, is carrying out an experiment in fish farming combined with onion cultivation, in an agroecological production system. Finally, Innocent Combari was able to open its own boutique in the city of products from fields where agroecological techniques are used.
All 10 winners were awarded during the Regional Forum of African cities that signed the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP), which was held in Ouagadougou from 15 to 19 February, and thus had the opportunity to present their projects. in front of the international community which has shown itself to be very interested and impressed by their ideas, their dynamism and their commitment to the city.
We then started planting the first seeds to meet the challenges that the city of Ouagadogou will have to face (and partly already faces). We hope that many will contribute in turn and that together we will go far. Precisely to 10,000,000.
Here are some photos of the award ceremony of the “Nourrir Ouaga” competition: